860H.00/7–248: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State


1233. Although very little Soviet comment thus far on Yugoslav situation and nothing whatever on Yugoslav reply subject occupies attention of diplomatic corps here almost to exclusion of everything except Berlin. Yugoslav mission, interrogated by US press representatives apparently completely disconcerted and groping for explanation, falls back on usual line of honest party disagreement among comrades. (Ambassador left here several weeks ago.) Italians at once began to worry about Trieste. Most others feel break highly significant, that Tito will endeavor to maintain position but that his days and those of other denounced leaders likely to be numbered. I am not by any means sure of this. My observation of Yugoslavs during war and later on brief visits of Tito and staff to Moscow impressed me with their arrogance, truculence and independent attitude in marked contrast to that of other visiting satellite delegations. It is my opinion also that there is very little likelihood at this time of direct overt Soviet action. Kremlin will use subversion, propaganda and undermining tactics through party channels and might even attempt to foment party insurrection on national scope if suitable opposition candidate to Tito is available which would think unlikely now. Also can hardly believe there is much ground for British suspicion that whole affair might be “planned”. Kremlin must realize it would take long time to establish Tito in position where he could persuade US to give economic aid to creaking Yugoslav five-year plan while great concern shown by Russian people and adverse effect elsewhere is indicative of high price which would have to be paid for such remote prospect. If this party breach authentic, as we believe, chances are that it will widen rather than narrow because of personalities involved and fact that Tito must realize that recantation would be prelude to his own official and probably personal demise and that of his main supporters. At same time BBC reported Yugoslav appeal direct to Stalin suggests Tito appreciates basic isolation and sees only hope that Stalin might disavow Cominform action or make face-saving offer. [Page 1084] However, appears to US such disavowal by Stalin highly unlikely at this date.

Sent Department, Department pass Belgrade as Moscow’s 30.